There are many ways to transport products such as gravity, belt, roller, skate wheel, air, industrial chain, spiral conveyors, and so-called flat top chains.
A belt conveyor consists of a head and tail pulley with a belt stretched between them. Take-up devices are commonly used to keep the belt stretched and to allow the pulleys to drive the belt by friction. The belt either slides on a steel surface or runs on rollers. Since the belt is in tension, it wears or stretches quickly and tracking can sometimes be an issue. Repairs or replacement of belts can be very time consuming.
Roller and skate wheel conveyors can be non-powered (gravity) or powered. In either case, the rollers rotate on bearings. Depending on the type, size, or condition of the rollers, the product may not always be conveyed on a smooth surface which can cause product damage. In addition, there are a lot of components in a roller conveyor making it a complex assembly as well as a costly piece of equipment as many parts must be stocked for repairs.
An air conveyor moves product using air pressure. Air conveyors are commonly used with empty containers, such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and other sensitive, lightweight containers. The PET containers are typically suspended from neck guiderails, while air pressure pushes the products along. The “bodies” of the bottles are guided by guiderails, which are usually adjustable to accommodated different sizes. This type of conveyor is very limited to the type of product it can convey.
Flat top conveyor chains perform like belts, but with several advantages when handling most containers and packages. Flat top chains can be used to convey
, transfer, accumulate, meter, elevate and lower items of various sizes and shapes.
Chuck is a Customer Solutions Engineer for the Rexnord Conveying Solutions Group in North America. Chuck is a graduate of Marquette University with a BSME. He has over 45 years of experience in the package handling industry, with 33 years of that at Rexnord.